Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More on Systems and Genre

A few post ago I made a bit of a list about games and genres I'd like to play in this coming year. I love pondering these questions and thinking about gaming so here are more thoughts on the list. The list had these games on it and while I've been doing reviews of these games others have also popped up as inspiration/posability and I'll talk about those too.As it stands the list of material I'm reviewing at the moment includes;
  • B/XD&D
    • Which rules set as the basis for a game? I think Swords and Wizardry although there is a part of me that would like to just use the Rules Encyclopedia/Dark Dungeons as it has a special place in my heart. Stars With Out number also falls in to this category and I would consider using this for a Planetary Romance game.
    • Castles and Crusades is also a possibility as it sit right in the middle of old D&D and 3.x  
      • Unfortunately I'm the only one ... (maybe one of my other players) that could get into this. Honestly I have some problems with D&D which is why I have not GM'd much of it successfully.
      • If we went this way I'm toying with a planetary romance game, a game set in a science fantasy version of southern Australia (essentially where I live inspired by Sean McMullen's Greatwinter stories)  or one set in the great Wilderlands of High Fantasy (which ironically enough is more Swords and Sorcery then it is High Fantasy... go figure)      

  • RuneQuest  
    • In a similar vein I could go RQ and do similar to the above. I'm not sure how my players would take it. They don't have an RQ background. I had a good campaign of this years ago with Griffin Island (well at that time Griffin Mountain was very hard to find) and we had a blast. My current players are less directed then those players were so it may not take off in quite the same way.
  • Pendragon
    • This is a great game, possibly the most complete sandbox and set of adventures there are - However and its a big however - its historical context, story-linked narrative and "Knights are the only class" misconception hold this back from most groups (you don't play "Knights" i.e. Fighters per D&D in Pendragon you play "Lords/Nobles" in the D&D vernacular. You have your own keep/manor and your own force of men at arms). I've done the GPC two times before and never finished it and never really got very far as there is so much to do. The only other down side is the conclusion of the campaign. The battle at Camlann is a tragedy and I don't really like the way its scripted to end. Yes its in keeping with the source material but... even so I'd like to play it through to the end even if I changed it up some how.    
  Qin: The Warring States
    • I love this game and I love the material for it. It is a great and very traditional type of sword and sorcery setting [well Wu Xia really]. Unfortunately its not really accessible to the Westerner. I did years of kung fu and hence loved Chinese movies and by extension the culture but its even hard to get a copy of The Water Margin let alone Jin Yong's novels although you can get them here      
  • Lord of the Rings Adventure guidebook
    • OK so yeah this one would be for just running a LotR game. The reason is, in my mind if I'm going to be doing high  fantasy you may as well go to the granddaddy of all milieus and do it right. Its funny but when this game first came out (that is the Lord of the Rings Adventure guidebook not MERP) a lot of people who didn't actually play the game derided it. As a result it didnt get a lot of support. Its actually a really very good game system essentially the type of system we would consider solid these days. It also has a great old school feel and is in my opinion better then MERP.
    •  Even though the main book is out of print there is now MEGAv4.0
      • Or if you prefer you can go and use Legends of Middle Earth to power your LotR chronicle. This is really well done rules lite and I kind of dig it. The die mechanic is inspired. My only gripe is it needs more structure for accruing dice however it has a sort of a Wushu feel to it, in a round about way, and it works in play so this would be OK with the right group.      
  • Savage Worlds
    • The draw card here is it would be an introduction to Savage Worlds for most of my group and would give us a good generic system to underpin our gaming and then there is;
      • Hellfrost - This game looks great and it seems like another solid option for a great fantasy campaign. This game is less High Fantasy and more Heroic Fantasy [says so on the can] which I take to mean its still got most of the high fantasy tropes of a High fantasy narrative only it also has a intricate plot, involving many peoples, nations and lands and that grand battles and the fate of the world are common themes and there is some emphasis on a universal conflict between good and evil.
      • The Freeport Companion - I love swashbuckling - I ran an fun 7thSea game (although it has to be said the rules and the world are both poorly executed)  and its a great option for Fantasy in my books. Pirates, Privateers, Gentlemen and Highwaymen are all great fun and hearken back to my youth so there is nostalgia value there too. Steven Brust schooled everyone when he did Phoenix Guard. Awesome. 
      • I guess I need to cast back just a bit farther and add in RĂ©gime Diabolique as its Ubiquity game. I love that system its soooooo sensible and it actually works for gaming. Oh now I'm thinking I need to look in to Desolation too.

      • Solomon Kane - Now we are talking! The Puritan and his friends against the "Eeeevil". This is, to my way of thinking, "the world of darkness/urban fantasy" 1700's. I like it as the players are not necessarily powered individuals, although they do have access to some magic and other knacks. Which alwos me to play up either the fantasy or horror aspects of the game. And that leads on to ....
  • Witch hunter: The Invisible World 
    • More of the same type of feel that we get from Solomon Kane. Its good as it goes different places and there is a lot of material for it too, between the published commercial adventure supplements and the living campaign. If anything its a little bit too much of a power fest.  The art is so good in this book dark and grotty so much so that I could own this book just for the Pat Loboyko's great art. 
    • I could get a very similar result with a historical Hunter the Vigil game so I'd best include that in the running too. I'd so this as it lowers the power level of the players a little which allows for a little more horror to seep in as powerlessness is a part of what makes horror work (not the only thing but one thing anyway) 
    • While on the topic I've got to add the gem which is Colonial Gothic. Take One part Last of the Mohican's add one part The Scarlet Letter, chill, shake and strain through Pirates of the Caribbean and you have Colonial Gothic. Its got a lot of what I like in one neat little package. Its something old, something new and will leave your players blue [well black and blue and a bit bloody around the edges] Sweeeeet.
  • This should have been the cover!
    • Love the world, I feel very familiar with it after all these years spent reading these books and I like the ideas in the game book by Green Ronin. Only if feels like they have dropped this game like it was a mistake? I have heard the mechanics aren't great for melee which seems odd as this is such a big part of the game. Running the game with other rules is a possibility but I think of all my group I'm the only fan of the novels. I like the humanocentric fantasy setting and I like the lack of spell casting - you cant say lack of magic exactly as there seems to be magic in the world in the form of real mythical beasts and even magical events. The grittiness of this world is also great. Introducing my current players to this could be a struggle, however its another solid fantasy option and one I really like. The question then becomes why this over say Pendragon? A high fantasy feel? More narrative freedom?
  • Barbarians of Lemuria 
    • I like the simplicity of character generation in this game and I also like the world of Lemuria and its background sketchy as it is in the rule book. Its science post apocalypse fantasy and is really the vibe I'm looking for. In the play test of this game the player playing the sorcerer didn't like the way he was limited with the spells and didn't get that it was in genre. Which has soured this game a touch. However the speed of play in this game is to be highly recommended although if your not careful the game can lose its edge and become somewhat slapstick.  In our play test we teetered on the edge of the two styles. I do recommend the game however there is really not a lot to the game and its quite "lite".    
  • Shadow, Sword and Spell Basic
    • This game has been overshadowed by Barbarians of Lemuria however while taking noting away from BoL, SS&S is a great game in its own right my one gripe is this is the Basic game so its not all the rules you will be wanting. This game is by Rogue games and has a lot in common with Colonial Gothic which is a good thing. It has a distinct old school or indy feel to it too. Based on the way Rogue games has steady expanded Colonial Gothic I can only hope SS&S get the same treatment too. However until that happens I dont see myself using this as the system of choice right now. However things could change...
  • Hollow Earth Expedition - Mysteries of the Hollow Earth.  
    • So this is the last entry for this current post and its one from left field. I really like the Ubiquity engine it works well around the game table and provides enough crunch and enough elegance to get a great gaming experience emerging around the table. The idea here would be to run a game where the players are all "Natives" of the Hollow Earth potentially some could even be from the surface world only they are stuck in the Hollow Earth and have been for some time. Humm this idea has really sparked my imagination now as it really does give a good backdrop to what would be a Planetary  Romance.    
So what has going over these works shown me...
First its that I'm spoiled for choice! Hah.
Furthermore I can see now that there are easier options and harder ones.

Easy options include 
Hollow Earth - I know the players could appreciate this setting and the system 
Savage Worlds - Hellfrost this would likely be to the taste of much of the group may who see d20 as the Daemon child of Satan.
Lord of the Rings rpg of some stripe - Most of the players like Tolkien and play LotRO and are fans of the novels. They would consider playing in a LotR game.  

Colonial/Swashbuckling game - This too I could likely get off the ground as three of the current players played in my 7thSea game and enjoyed it.   

B/XD&D or RQ Sword and Sorcery - This is a bit of an unknown and a lot would be riding on the strength of the early sessions. All thought I do like the idea of making my own set of rules just the way we want them. 

Harder options; 
These Medieval/Historical type rpg's don't seem to hold a lot of interest to my player group. Hence  a lot would be riding on the strength of the early sessions and my commitment to the chosen game. More so my commitment which will need to be strong to convince them honestly of my own on going passion for the game. But damn it you can only get this or this in one of these games <<smile>> 

Old school tourney action

Is that a dragon in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
And I'm not sure of my "ongoing passion for Fantasy rpg's" at all!!! That is an issue I need to work through. I'm fickle and I tend to follow my interests in reading etc so that is often why Sci-Fi is such a good option for me. So next post I'm going to blog about Sci-fi, Super Hero/Pulp and Horror options. The next post will talk about these...
  • Stars Without Numbers
  • Traveller 
  • Eclipse Phase
  • Starblazer Adventures
  • Shadowrun
  • Dead of Night
  • Trail of Cthulhu
  • Savage Worlds – War of the Dead
  • MSH
  • Smallville
  • Mutant City blues

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